The Position of Glycogen in Eating regimen and Train


When your physique wants power, it will probably draw on its glycogen shops. The molecules, comprised of glucose within the meals you eat, are primarily saved in your liver and muscle groups. From these storage websites, your physique can shortly mobilize glycogen when it wants gas.

What you eat, how typically you eat, and your exercise stage all affect how your physique shops and makes use of glycogen. Low-carb and ketogenic diets, in addition to strenuous train, all deplete glycogen shops, inflicting the physique to burn fats for power.

Glycogen Manufacturing and Storage

Many of the carbohydrates we eat are transformed to glucose, our primary supply of power. When the physique does not want gas, the glucose molecules are linked collectively in chains of eight to 12 glucose items which kind a glycogen molecule.

The primary set off for this course of is insulin:

  • Whenever you eat a carbohydrate-containing meal, your blood glucose stage will rise in response.
  • Elevated glucose alerts the pancreas to supply insulin, a hormone that helps the physique take up glucose from the blood for power.
  • Insulin instructs the liver cells to supply an enzyme referred to as glycogen synthase that hyperlinks chains of glucose collectively.
  • So long as glucose and insulin stay plentiful, glycogen molecules might be delivered to the liver, muscle groups, and even fats cells for storage.

Glycogen makes up round 6% of the liver’s whole weight. Far much less is saved within the muscle groups (solely round 1% to 2%), which is why we run out of power shortly throughout strenuous train.

The quantity of glycogen saved in these cells can differ relying on how energetic you might be, how a lot power you burn at relaxation, and the varieties of meals you eat. Glycogen saved in muscle is primarily utilized by the muscle groups themselves, whereas these saved within the liver are distributed all through the physique—primarily to the mind and spinal twine.

Glycogen shouldn’t be confused with the hormone glucagon, which can be essential in carbohydrate metabolism and blood glucose management.

How Your Physique Makes use of Glycogen

At any given time, there are about 4 grams of glucose in your blood. When the extent begins to say no—both as a result of you haven’t eaten or are burning glucose throughout train—insulin ranges may also drop.

When this occurs, an enzyme referred to as glycogen phosphorylase begins breaking glycogen down to provide the physique with glucose. For the following eight to 12 hours, glucose derived from liver glycogen turns into the physique’s main power supply.

Your mind consumes greater than half of the physique’s blood glucose in periods of inactivity. Over the course of a median day, your mind’s demand for glucose accounts for about 20% of your physique’s power wants.

Do Carbs Give You Vitality for Train?

Glycogen and Eating regimen

What you eat and the way a lot you progress round additionally affect glycogen manufacturing. The consequences are particularly acute when you’re following a low-carb food regimen, the place the first supply of glucose synthesis—carbohydrate—is abruptly restricted.

Fatigue and Psychological Dullness

When first beginning a low-carb food regimen, your physique’s glycogen shops might be severely depleted and you could expertise signs like fatigue and psychological dullness. As soon as your physique adjusts and begins renewing its glycogen shops, these signs ought to start to subside.

Water Weight

Moreover, any quantity of weight reduction can have the identical impact on glycogen shops. Initially, you could expertise a speedy drop in weight. After a time period, your weight could plateau and presumably even improve.

The phenomenon is partly as a result of composition of glycogen, which is primarily water. The truth is, the water in these molecules accounts for 3 to 4 occasions the load of the glucose itself.

As such, speedy depletion of glycogen on the onset of the food regimen triggers the lack of water weight. Over time, glycogen shops are renewed and the water weight begins to return. When this occurs, weight reduction could stall or plateau.

Beneficial properties skilled to start with come from water loss, not fats loss, and are solely short-term. Fats loss can proceed regardless of the short-term plateau impact.

Glycogen and Train

The physique can retailer round 2,000 energy of glucose as glycogen. For endurance athletes who burn that many energy in a few hours, the quantity of saved glucose might be an obstacle. When these athletes run out of glycogen, their efficiency nearly instantly begins to endure—a state generally described as “hitting the wall.”

Should you’re enterprise a strenuous train routine, there are a number of methods endurance athletes use to keep away from decreased efficiency you could discover useful:

  • Carbo-loading: Some athletes eat extreme quantities of carbohydrates earlier than an endurance occasion. Whereas additional carbs will present ample gas, the tactic has largely fallen out of favor as it will probably additionally result in extra water weight and digestive points.
  • Consuming glucose gels: Vitality gels containing glycogen might be consumed upfront of or as-needed throughout an endurance occasion to extend blood glucose ranges.
  • Consuming a low-carb ketogenic food regimen: Consuming a food regimen excessive in fats and low in carbs can put your physique in a keto-adaptative state. On this state, your physique begins to entry saved fats for power and depends much less on glucose as a gas supply.

Professionals and Cons of the Ketogenic Eating regimen

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